Skip to main content

Full text of "The Letters Of Horace Walpole Vol I"

See other formats

he himself applied to some of the letters of his favourite, Madame de SevignS.
The letters in French to Madame du Deffand are seven in number. Five of them are in Horace Walpole's own handwriting1. Of the other two, one was dictated to a friend (apparently George Selwyn) during one of Walpole's frequent attacks of gout; the other, which is incomplete, is a copy, in the handwriting of Wiart, Madame du Deffand's secretary. These letters, the originals of which are in the possession of Mr. W. E. Parker-Jervis, are of unique interest, inasmuch as, with the exception of a few fragments, printed in Miss Berry's notes to her edition of the letters of Madame du Deffand to Horace Walpole (four vols., 1810), they are the only remaining relics on Walpole's side of the almost weekly correspondence carried on during sixteen years between him and Madame du Deffand. All the rest of his letters to her were destroyed, either by Madame du Deffand at his request, or by Miss Berry, in obedience to his wishes, after his death. The preservation of the above letters is no doubt due to their having been overlooked by some accident when the rest were destroyed2.
The motives which induced Walpole to cause his letters to Madame du Deffand to be destroyed were in all likelihood those indicated by himself in his letter to Conway of Sept. 28, 1774 (No. 1564 in the present edition), viz. the fact that they were written in ' very bad French,' and the wish to prevent the publication by ill-natured persons of his freely expressed opinions of various people in England and France. Besides which, no doubt, he was unwilling to
1  A facsimile of one of these is given in a later volume.
2  For the possible explanation of
their preservation, see my letter in the Athenaeum of July 13, 1901.